East Bengal FC on the verge of entering ISL:
After a dramatic last-minute winner from Debabrata Sarkar & Co., another 100-year-old club entered into Indian Super League, and that too in no less than a climax filled real-time movie. The neighbor club had already entered the tournament merging hands with Kolkata Games and Sports Pvt. Ltd. owned ATKFC.
On the 2nd of September, 2020 East Bengal FC announced the arrival of Shree Cements, as their new investor, which will help the club to overcome its financial problems and also opened the door of playing in India’s top football league.
East Bengal’s strength is undoubtedly their huge fanbase, they recorded the highest average attendance in the 2018-19 season which was higher than all Indian Super League teams. Large numbers will be acting as a catalyst for companies to invest in a league that is aiming for huge brand visibility.
The “Kolkata Derby” had always been in the hearts of Indian Football as long as the beautiful sport is being played in the country, even though it was played in a less hyped I-League, Indian Super League will be having more competition on their cards after the inclusion of East Bengal and Mohun Bagan as there will be more matches played and more viewers viewing the matches. The increase in the number of teams will lead to a trend of roping in talented footballers from the I-League to ISL.
The way Indian Super League embarked its journey in 2014, the popularity might have increased but the number of fans coming into the stadium to watch their favorite clubs has gone down considerably. ISL had an average attendance of 25k in the first season, it increased by two thousand in the next season, but then after the inclusion of Jamshedpur FC and Bengaluru FC and the decision of FSDL to increase the length of the tournament had somehow hit the number of fans, especially for the existing clubs, though the two new clubs have finished 2nd and 3rd in the terms of average attendance.
It always indicated that new clubs mean new viewers, and when it comes to established clubs like East Bengal who had consistent average attendance of 17,000 in the last few I-Leagues, there is no doubt that East Bengal can increase the stadium figures.
The inclusion of East Bengal can bring professionalism into the league, the teams are playing in the league sometimes fall short of the criteria. The experience in the officials play a part in framing and guiding the club in a professional way. They will have the perfect strategies to interact with the community and attract large crowds. The aspect which was less in ISL can be developed by these two teams.
The heat of derby in the ISL, after East Bengal’s inclusion in ISL, it will create a huge engagement amongst the fans. This is the biggest factor that no other football clubs in the country can bring in. For a 7 year old league like ISL, it will be of a great benefit to get the 100-year-old rivalry. East Bengal will be looking forward to facing ATK Mohun Bagan FC twice in the group stage but the knockout stage will be more interesting to watch out for. The league holders will get the advantage of having the emotional attachments of football pundits from Kolkata, so they will become the primary beneficiary.
Now that Indian Super League Season 7 will be played behind closed doors, it will be a boost for the telecasting channel by the means of the viewership that will be gained during this tournament, which not only increases revenue for the organizer but also a strategy to increase their brand presence. We wish that East Bengal’s inclusion in Indian Super League will usher into a new era for Indian Football and also increase their popularity in evolving as a brand that they are looking forward to become from their inception.